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Filtering Your Photos


Learning Goals

  • Understand the importance of pre-processing or filtering your photos
  • Learn about Picasa and how it can help with the process
  • Setup and organize your processing area and picture library
  • Effectively prepare downloaded pictures for addition to your library

The Digital Photography Process

When working with Digital Photos, there are a number of activities you need to learn, in other words, a process that involves the following:
  1. Using your camera to take good pictures
  2. Downloading and filtering the pictures on your computer
  3. Organizing, managing, and preserving your photo library
  4. Working with your photos: advanced editing; printing; projects...

Preparing Your Photo Library

I recommend that you take some time to organize a location on your computer where you plan to store and manage your digital photograph collection. This could be in your Pictures folder, or in a folder you create such as C:\Photos, particularly if you decide to share this location with other users on your computer or with other computers on your home network.

Setup two main folders inside your Picture Library:
  1. To Review - this is where you will download new photographs and do your filtering.
  2. Library - this is where you will put your processed photos for long-term storage and organization.

Introducing Picasa

To learn more about Picasa, access our new tutorial below:

Steps for Filtering Your Photos

Before you can put your newly captured photos into your Library, you need to do the following:
  1. Download or Import your pictures from your camera to your computer.
  2. Remove the pictures from your camera
  3. Decide which pictures you wish to keep
  4. Add Name Tags to your photos
  5. Clean up and do some basic edits on your pictures
  6. Backup your pictures
We'll cover these activities in detail in the remaining sections below.

Getting Your Pictures on the Computer

It's important to download your pictures from your camera to your computer as soon as possible.  This gives you a copy of your pictures, in case something happens to the camera, and lets you free up space on your camera for more picture taking fun.  After downloading your pictures, it's important to remove them from your camera.  This helps you track what you've downloaded and makes sure that your camera is ready for your next picture taking session.

When you connect your camera, you can setup the computer to automatically start a program that will download the pictures on your camera.  Setup the default download folder to point to the Download directory in your Picture Library.  Set the default folder name to the date of the download.

Instructions for Picasa:
  1. In Picasa, click Import. (You can set your computer to automatically go here when you plug in your camera)
  2. Select the To Review folder you setup on your computer for your new photos, from the "Import to:" drop-down menu at the bottom.
  3. The Folder Title:  will default to today's date. This is the name of the folder where you will find your downloaded pictures.  Leave this setting at the current value. 
  4. Choose Delete only copied photos from the After Copying: drop-down menu.
  5. Click Import All to import all the photos displayed.

Your Download folder will would look something like this:
  • To Review
    • download-date-1
      • pictures downloaded on that date
    • download-date-2
      • pictures downloaded on that date
    • etc...

The Most Important Task

Since it is so easy to take a huge number of pictures, it is important to have the discipline to properly process your pictures before putting them in your library. This is the most important activity to remember:

  • Ruthlessly delete as many as pictures as possible.  
One of the greatest challenges you will face using a digital camera is the ability to take lots of bad pictures.  Like weeds in the garden, these will soon overwhelm all those really great shots that you will cherish and revisit for years to come.  Making a choice to remove these pictures at this stage will save you countless hours of time in the future.   

For example.  Let's suppose you take several group shots at a family gathering.  You narrow it down to two or three that are really great.   My recommendation: pick one and remove the other two.  Why?  It is better to agonize over that decision once, then to have to revisit it again and again, when you are creating a slideshow in the future, or putting together a family album. You will have to compare all two or three pictures each time and make the same agonizing decision over and over again.

This discipline is the key to making it easier to find, manage and edit your photo collection. It allows you to focus on the quality and meaningful pictures and saves you countless hours of work. It makes sure that you can quickly search and find great shots in your collection as it grows.  When you're done removing all the pictures, go back and remove some more!

Rule of thumb:  only keep the best pictures and those that are essential to the story!

Name Tags

After you've cleaned up your photos, this is a good opportunity to quickly "tag" the people in your new photos.  Picasa will scan for any known faces and then allow you to ignore or name any unknown individuals.

You can get detailed instructions from the online help topic: http://picasa.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=156272

The video below demonstrates this feature:


Basic Touch-Up

Take some time to do some basic touch-up.  Red-eye removal, color balancing, etc.  Save any heavy editing for times when you are actually using the pictures in a presentation, making prints, or sharing them with others.

First, double-click on the thumbnail of the picture you wish to adjust. Then use one of the following features on the Basic Fixes tab:


Use the interactive help page at Picasa to learn more details about how each feature works:
This is also a good time to add any Name Tags to people in your photos and "star" your favourite shots:

Next Step

Once you've cleaned up your photos, you're ready to move them into an appropriately named folder in your Library. We'll cover this in detail in our next topic: Managing Your Photo Library